Response to “Divorced from the Land”, “Indigenous Women” and “Native Women’s History”
“Divorced from the Land” was another eye-opening article for me. To think that the English thought they could completely change the way that the Native men and women do things is ridiculous. They are going to be set in their ways because they have been doing their “roles” like this forever. The words in which they used to describe these women was awful. The connection that the native people have to their land is what worked for them and what they were giving back to the land. In the article they use the term “Squaw Dodge” which is very offensive towards a Native American women. Another thing I found offensive was how they said women just took care of their lazy husbands. Native American husbands were not lazy, they just had their own roles that differed from the women. Englishmen did not understand this. They also saw the Native Americans fishing and hunting as wasteful, but as we learned in our class, they would use everything they could out of the land and nature, and in return give something back.
“Indigenous Women” opened up with how indigenous women often find confusion in academics as far as their status goes. This is something that many women face regardless of their race and background. Men still make more in some areas of the workplace and as women, which is something that needs to be changed. It is strange to see that women who are so high up in academia still facing this challenge. They took all the same steps that men did to get their masters and all other sorts of degrees, but still they are not treated like them. Unfortunately, this is an ongoing problem.
After reading “Native Women’s History,” I could tell that it connects directly to “Divorced from the Land.” The thought of a “squaw dodge” was brought up and immediately taken care of by saying it is a “euro-American misconception.” This was just another way for other cultures to call the Natives savages. The Pocahontas Perplex was very interesting because I did not think that this was such a widely thought of idea of a Native American women. The article brings up illustrations through these ideas, which I thought was important. Many people can be misrepresented through media, especially Native Americans. The identity of a whole gender cannot be represented by one woman in their history, it takes many to make a diverse gender construct.
After reading “Divorved from the Land” by Jean O’Brien I felt so bad for the Native women during these times of hardship. It is funny how the English came up with the term “divorce” when talking about the Native people and how the English took their land. They thought by using the term divorce it didn’t sound as bad as stealing. To me, stealing is exactly what they did and not only did they steal the Native people’s lands but it seemed like they wanted to literally wipe out anything to do with “Indian” way of life. The English thought their way of life, their skills, their religion, their language, etc. was way more or importance and the right and only way to live by. This so unfair and what it reminds me of is genocide. By making them change their lives and adopting the English ways not only did it change exactly what was asked to be changed but it was like a domino effect of change and everything ended up being effected in the end. It is sad that the English viewed the Native women as slaves because they performed all of the agricultural labor in their societies. This doesn’t mean they are slaves, they are not being held against their will but they are happy to perform these duties. This is how their culture works and how it always has worked and women are happy to do whatever they need to in order to keep their families and villages happy. It’s like a cycle and once that cycle is broken all hell breaks loose. Since the English saw the Native women doing the work that was supposed to be done by men, they changed replaced the role of Native women with males. This is not fair they are disrupting their life without asking them. If they wanted the males to do the work the women are doing don’t you think they would have changed this a long time ago or even never of let it happened to begin with. This is what works best for them and if this is what they want they deserve to be happy and treated right and fair. Everything changed when the English invaded the Native people’s territory especially for the women. Natives were encouraged to adopt English work habits, individual ownership of land, English taste in material culture, and values structured by a market economy. The Native women displayed transformations in their work habits, material life, aesthetic emphases, and physical appearance. Native clothing like animal skin was replaced by cotton clothing. Some of the Natives began to adopt the material culture and market economy and became so caught up in having money, having land, and having material items. Instead of helping each other out like they use to in times of need if any Native people needed shelter they would make them pay a compensation in order to stay there. All of their values and beliefs were soon being taken over by the greedy English ways.
In the Introduction of the Indigenous Women, I found it so interesting how many concerns Mihesuah stated. I never really think about how lucky I am to live in the United States as white American. Native Americans are seriously suffering and not much is done about it. Their land is being polluted, their pay is lower than most Americans and their unemployment rate on reservation is absolutely sickening. And not only are these physical concerns saddening to hear, but we also forget to treat Native Americans with the respect they deserve. We give them nicknames and name mascots after them in a stereotypical way. When is anybody going to step up and really make a difference for these Native Americans?
In Divorced from the Land, Winslow states that women live a slavish lifestyle. It is crazy to think about how much these Native American women do in their society. They make the clothing, do the dishes, gather the food, grow crops, take care of children and keep the house clean. Unlike most English women, Native American women perform all of the agricultural labor. They are considered to do male work. When English men came over and divorced the Indians of their land, they also tried to divorce Native American women from doing male gendered jobs. I think this is funny. The colonists did not want anything different from their culture. Was this because they would be threatened if women did their job?
Joyce Rain Anderson
October 16, 2014
I really enjoyed the readings for this class. With the exception of Poems as Maps in American Indian Women’s Writing at the beginning of the semester, we have yet to get more of the women’s point of view and the importance of the roles of women. It was heartbreaking to see the Europeans try and whitewash these roles, transforming women from agriculturalists to “white” women.
In Jean M. O’Brien’s piece, “Divorced” from the Land, O’Brien focuses on the European’s desire to divorce women from what they know and what they value: the land. White settlers wanted to remove women from the land and have them conform to white, female gender roles. O’Brien grapples with the goals of English colonists and notes, “Colonists sought to ‘divorce’ Indian women from their role as agriculturalists, replacing them with male Indians working drastically reduced plots of land to the exclusion of hunting and other older economic pursuits” (O’Brien 337). Their goal was to turn the Native women’s jobs over to the male Natives, allowing for the women to conform to the roles of white women.
In the piece on Native Women’s History, Rayna Green presents the contrast in the two European views of Native American Women: the Pocahontas, princess view and the view of a barbarian, ravenous squaw. Although they both revolve around the fulfillment of the needs of white males, the princess view was respected in a sense while the Squaw was treated as an object for the fulfillment of sexual desires. It is sad to see how Native women were unable to discover their true identity because of the way that the setters misconstrued them.
Not going to lie, but it has been a while since I’ve thought about Eurocentrism and its effect on Native American life. After reading Divorced from the Land, by Jean O’Brien, I was shocked to be further enlightened on the enforced gender roles imposed by English settlers. Before I continue, I think both genders should be treated fairly and equally, but the fact the Native American woman grow and gather crops, cook the meals, take care of the children and make clothing for the family, and then being deprived of those rights was truly insulting to me as a male. Eurocentrism was enforced on the Native American people because English settlers thought that their gender roles within society were superior to any other. However, when enforced on the Native American people, it was a turn for the worst. Native American’s have their own gender roles just as any other culture, and if those roles revolve and depend more on women, then so be it. English settlers saw Native American women as slaves because they tended to the crops, but this perception was wrong; the only thing Native American women were guilty of was caring for their families and contributing to them.
After reading Indigenous American Women, by Devon Mihesuah, I reflected upon my own lifestyle and realized that there are times where I really depreciate the luxuries I have, but not just me, many others in our society as well. Native American’s are still treated as lower-class citizens in most-to-all places; they are still disrespected, do not have the proper physical/medical care, and suffer from low income and unemployment way more that other parts of the USA. We pollute the land they cherish, they work much harder than us for half the pay, and continually go unheard. It is time for us to start realizing how disrespectful we are to Native Americans, while at the same time, start viewing them as fellow citizens. They should have equal pay amongst them all, despite gender, have the proper medical care that we do, and above all be respected as fellow citizens.
In “Indigenous American Women,” a commentary on women’s roles in tribes and modern-day America, we see how Native American women are playing an active role in breaking stereotypes while still maintaining tradition. At the beginning of the piece, Mihesuah lists some heart-wrenching statistics in regard to the current native population. Native Americans are, in comparison to other American ethnicities, much poorer and susceptible to the negative impacts of poverty. However, the women cited are doing everything in their power to break these cycles.
Native women are turning towards education in order to further themselves and their tribes. Compared to previously, there is a much higher number of these women in academia building a name for themselves. They are able to speak on behalf of their people in their writings and thus build a future for their tribes.
Above all, the most important goal asserted by these Native women is to correct their past and the interpretation of it. The media and American culture does an awful job of portraying Native people realistically, and thus through their writing and scholarly work Native women are trying to defeat that misrepresentation.
In Roofwalker by Susan Power, a Native American student George is touring the Harvard campus in hopes of attending the following year. Along with their father, they are tailing an assumed-to-be grad student who is pointing out all the historical sites. She fails to point out the old Indian school, however, as the father interjects and gives his own lecture to the crowd. What is surprising about this time in the chapter, however, is that George is blown away by how receptive both the crowd and the tour guide are being. She is more used to having her father and his knowledge of old Indian culture shut down, but on the contrary, everyone appears to be interested.
Both articles detail the pursuit of education by Native women. It is important to keep in mind that apart from other ethnicities, Natives are not only working for themselves but to strengthen their people as a whole by breaking the stereotypical behavior of the tribespeople.
In the reading "Divorced" from the land by Jean M. O'Brien women are looked at specifically Native American women from the New England area. Women in the culture were respected in their matrilineal society. Women did hard work because they were trusted to do these actions. When Europeans saw women doing all these things while the men did little, they confused the role of women as being important and saw them as slaves taking care of their lazy husbands. The reality was that these women had an important role in their society. The kept the culture moving in the positive direction. Because Europeans believed that women were weak and needed to be taken care of they saw this not just for European women but for other women in different cultures as well. Native American women held the tribe together and because they were forced to no longer take part in their politics they were divorced from the land.
16 October 2014
Critical Response – 10/14
Today’s reading helped to further expand on an important topic we have been discussing in class recently: the role of women in Native American society. Because of the fact that many of our social perspectives and ideas of gender come from largely Western influences, particularly in New England, we often forget that Native Americans viewed women much differently than the European settlers who showed up on their shores. To the early settlers, women were inferior to men in almost every way. While they were largely in charge of taking care of house and home, they were not given much of a voice in society. What is sad is that we would like to think that we live in a world that’s much more modern and progressive than the one our ancestors lived in, but truth be told, we are slow to progress as a people. Women did not receive most of the same rights as men until, historically, very recently. While things are not equal just yet, our generation is in a much better position to push for equality, compared to our parents.
In Native American society, not only did women play an important role, but they often were central figures in their communities. The reading speaks to the fact that many native societies were matriarchal. Women had prominent positions of power and helped run much of what was going on in the tribe. They were highly respected and their opinions were held in the highest regard. “Divorced from the Land,” in particular, highlights some of the responsibilities that women had in their villages. It’s inspiring to think that many of the duties that women held were seen by European settlers as typically jobs for men. Native American women not only cooked, cleaned, and took care of the family, but they engaged in strenuous physical labor and were instrumental in helping to grow and cultivate crops. This came as a shock to early Europeans because of how much it went against the grain of what they were seeing from their own women. It is sad to think how much more respect and admiration women would have received in this country had we adopted more of a Native American perspective on the matter.
Part of me believes that the reverence for women in native society comes out of their religious traditions. When we encountered the story of the Sky Woman, it became apparent how the different cultures viewed the “fairer sex.” The book of Genesis makes it quite clear that mankind’s original sin, and its ultimate expulsion from Eden, was the fault of Eve, but in the creation story we read about in class, the perspective is drastically different. Even in their myth, Native Americans uplifted women and made it quite clear that life could not, and would not, exist without them. Rather than trying to attribute blame, this creation story talks about how women are kind, nurturing, and ultimately, equal partners to men. It is the kind of message that should resonate with all of us and remind us that we are all in this together. In order for society to move forward, we have to start treating each other as equals and stop holding one another back.
In the article "Divorced' From the Land," O'Brien speaks about how the Native Americans used the land. They originally fished, hunted, gathered, and practiced agriculture. One important aspect of this use is that men were the hunters and fishers while the women grew the corn and other crops. This gave the women a deeply integrated connection to the soil and the land, from which they produced sustenance. When the European settlers came to America, they broke down the systems which the Native Americans had been using for generations. They convinced men that it should be their job to farm and that women should learn "household skills" such as sewing. The men resisted this notion because according to their culture and tradition, farming was women's work, and to farm was to be stripped of their masculinity. This new structure did not make sense according to their previously held beliefs, because the Earth was female, as were all the fertility and provisions goddesses.
According to the article, despite being forced from the farm into the home, the Native American women "remained crucially connected to the land that sustained their kinship and visiting networks and their own sense of proper place." The women missed their close connection with the land through farming, but they did not give up their ties to it entirely. The land still meant a lot to them and their community. However, the Native Americans were being forced off of their land, and in order to be permitted to remain on a small piece of it, the Native Americans were told that they were required to conform to European styles of living, which included male farmers and female homemakers. In addition, they were forced into European-style homes. This further estranged them from the land because they now lived on it differently than they had been living on it for centuries.
Another element of land which the Europeans changed for the Native Americans is that land became a commodity and could be bought, sold inherited after the death of a parent. Native Americans did not see the land as something that they "owned," but rather that they merely lived on the land which was given freely to them by Mother Earth. This new ownership of land and the necessity to purchase it was a strange alteration to the Native Americans' lifestyle. Besides the land, crops were also sold for money. This concept was almost as unfamiliar as buying land, for they, too, were gifts from Mother Earth. The ironic piece to this story is that the Native Americans who owned the land originally were forced off the land when the Europeans stole it, and then these settlers resold it to them, or the modern American government granted them a small piece of it. In reality, The European settlers should have had to pay the Native Americans for the land they wanted to own. If the Native Americans had a system of ownership of and payment for land, however, I seriously doubt that Columbus or the settlers would adhere to it; it does not benefit them.
Native Writing and Rhetoric
I thought that the “The Pocahontas Perplex” very engaging. It is interesting to me that we as a culture feel the need to create princesses out of everything. By westernizing Native culture into something that it is not , we have stripped it of respect that we should be paying towards not only the culture, but also the female gender. As an individual who considers herself a feminist, any stereotype which inhibits women and keeps a false image of who they are, leads to major problems within our society. I find it particularly distressing considering the fact that many native women have been terrorized and over sexualized by white men. This princess, or “Pocahontas”, image does not protect these women against being victimized. As a culture, it is our duty to detach ourselves from these archaic images which oppress groups, particularly indigenous women. As I read this excerpt, I thought about the stereotypes of native women which were presented in the last class. By allowing our society to continue to perpetuate these false images, we have failed these women in a social and environmental context. (We have cultivated an unsafe and harmful environment for them to exist within.) Therefore, we must discard this stereotype from our films, our texts, and our minds.
I found it interesting that when the Europeans came to America they view Native women as slaves. This was only because their view of what women did was much different then what they had their women doing. Winslow states, "(T)he women live the most slavish life," (O’Brien, 335). It is actually interesting to think of because Native women spent time in the fields, which Europeans looked at as a mans job, where their women spent time cleaning and cooking, doing household chores only. I find this interesting that Winslow and many other people felt that Native women were being treated as slaves, when they enjoyed their work. Especially considering they women around them were not enjoying their lives. They felt trapped and unappreciated only doing household chores. They wanted to have more responsibility and be equally to men, which to this day has not truly occurred. Women in the Native culture were held with high regards, where as women in their own culture were not, and had to fight for the same rights as men. If The Europeans had realized that women actually wanted these responsibilities it could have worked out better for women of their culture.
Once again we are back to talking about Native American land. It is such an important topic cultivated their life in everyway. The Europeans felt that the Native Americans use of fishing, hunting and cultivating the land was useless, their way to remove those qualities from them was to remove Native Americans from their homeland. They wanted to “divorce” Native American from their land. They continued to think that Native women were treated badly. Though many Indians resisted the English take over many converted to their culture to survive. I think it must have been a hard decision but most Native Americans did not have a choice but to leave their land behind. It was the only way for them to survive. The Europeans did everything they could to separate the Native Americans from their land. They also viewed their culture from the outside, not realizing that Native women were not salves. They were held with high regards, but the Europeans only saw what they wanted. Savage, people who forced their women to work, and this gave them the right to take their land and try to erase their culture.
In Susan Power's "First Fruits" the main character Georgiana is touring the Harvard college with their father. Everyone is dressed modernly except for the father who is dressed as a Native. He has the long hair of a Native with hair pieces that the author states that he is only wearing for vanity reasons, not because they are traditional. As you read this assignment you can easily tell there is some tension between the father and the narrator. The narrator wants to become a part of the modern world while the father desires to stay locked in the past. The father even becomes shocked when the tour guide Jean recognizes the suffering of Natives that were forced to conform to the Indian Colleges. Even though the main character is excited to go to college, especially Harvard the father still holds doubts. He tells him "Don't you forget" meaning don't forget where you came from in this world. Don't forget your roots because your roots and traditions are what make you a unique individual. Culture becomes a part of you.
Due October 21... Response to “Why Educators Can’t Ignore Mascots” and the Smithsonian Conference
At the beginning of the blog, I really liked how Reese mentions that teachers should use present tense verbs when describing Native Americans. This is because they still exist, and when teachers or any sort of other author or writer use verbs in the past tense, it makes it as though they were a thing of the past, which we all know is the complete opposite of the truth. The most important thing that I got from this blog is as straight forward as this, “culturally diverse books must not have stereotypes.” As simple as that, yet many books and people cannot seem to leave them out of literature. The list of reasons why the picture with the Native American man is stereotypical is because they are sitting “Indian style.” I can directly relate this to present day because many people still use this phrase when they should not. In classrooms, this is very common.
It is eye opening to see that someone is taking the time to describe and go over books that do not shed the correct light on Native Americans. It is crazy to me that she even has to do this. When I first started reading every entry, I immediately thought of one of the pictures that was shown to us during the first week of classes. There was a picture of a Native American person with all of the stereotypes attached to him, then the next pictures were of a Mexican person, Chinese person and they were connected to a certain mascot that went along with their culture. This is just wrong. When we viewed this as a class, all of us were shocked. Why is it still a thing with the Native Americans?
The Smithsonian conference was extremely interesting. I think it was very important that we heard what Kevin Gover had to say. Since he is a Native American, we may have thought before that he was very cultured and knew a lot about his own family and background, but he told us the opposite. He looked back at his own personal life and said he learned nothing about Native Americans. As for sports, he went over the different mascots, which were highly insulting. Racial stereotypes did not make sense, and when he mentioned the Atlanta team mascot who “emerged from his teepee and danced.” To think that people actually thought to make that the mascot is terrible. Why didn’t they choose another mascot that would fit more appropriately? It isn’t until someone like Kevin Gover explains it to us that it sounds that much more ridiculous.
This is my response to the readings by Powers and Alexie, since there has not yet been a blog posted for those works. My response on the literature about native women was turned in on 10/16.
The readings by Susan Powers and Sherman Alexie assigned for today both discuss the relationship between Indian Americans and education in the United States. The authors both display their own (as well as their families’) views of education and how their Native American roots have impacted their careers as scholars. As much as both excerpts discuss modern education and post-secondary school, I was pleasantly surprised that both authors situate themselves in native space within their writing.
In “First Fruits”, the writing by Powers really brought my mind back to my work on the map project in ENGL 326. For the map project, I had to research Native American landmarks in my town and towns nearby, and I was also required to note significant roles Native American peoples played in forming the place I live today. By doing this rhetorical mapping, I was finding my place amongst the many native peoples who occupied the same land as me generations ago. The central character in Powers’s text was doing her own rhetorical mapping. As a Sioux college student, her father informed her on her first day of school about the Native American school located right next to where Harvard stands today. He informs his daughter of relevant Indian students who attended Harvard, and also tells her about the original intention of the university. Throughout the remainder of the text, even when her father returns home, the main character in “First Fruits” feels a connection within her soul to the Native American past surrounding her at Harvard. For me, Powers is demonstrating in her writing the power of situating oneself in native space and the affect rhetorical mapping can have on a person perception and way of life.
In Alexie’s text, he discusses his love of reading and writing growing up. “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me” demonstrates the importance of literature in Alexie’s home as a child, thanks to his father who willingly received a Catholic school education. Alexie’s essay is particularly interesting because of the way her uses his love of reading and writing to help Native American students once he finishes school. Alexie’s upbringing taught him not only the importance of receiving an education, but also the importance of remembering his roots as an American Indian. It was heartwarming to read about how Alexie combined two important things in his life to fulfill one amazing purpose: working in education with Native American students on reservations and teaching them reading and creative writing skills. It just goes to show that throughout Alexie’s life, working and going to school, he never once lost sight of his position in native space – which explains why he eventually returned home.
Native American Lit.
October 20, 2014
While doing my readings for this week I really liked the article “First Fruits” as it had a lot of surprising information about Harvard. Before reading this article I had no idea that Harvard was once a place where native peoples were expected to learn to be “civilized”. I enjoyed reading about the author’s father giving his lecture while on Power’s college tour, and it made me overjoyed when the college tour guide allowed Powell’s father to speak. This article accurately showed the differences between society in the past and present. While Power and her father are able to see all of the flaws in the college’s history in regards to Native Americans, their tour guide Jean’s willingness to listen to the truth displays how far society has come. At the same time the fact that Jean did not know any of the information that Power’s father provided also displays how much farther we need to go in order to end the current stereotypes and lies about Native American history.
Toward the end of the story, Power discusses how she “must look like everyone else while I stand here, wearing jeans, a sweater, and a backpack over one shoulder, but I have uncommon expectations” (126). When most people imagine Native Americans (as we discovered on our first day of class) they imagine feather headdresses and perhaps moccasins. I liked Power including a description of herself, although it was brief, as it painted a clear modern day picture of what Native Americans look like today. Last year in one of my classes I had a Native American student in my class. If he had not shared with us where he was from and what some of his customs were, I wonder if any of us in the room would have known if he was a modern day native. Power describing her normal clothes, her backpack, and her daily college life is useful in showing how native people are just like anyone else, despite the constant stereotypes that native people constantly face.
In the section in which Power describes her appearance she then goes on to describe her looking for Caleb Cheeshateaumuck, who graduated from Harvard only to die of consumption. Caleb’s story is ironic, as he was told that if he was educated he would be civilized. Despite being a brilliant student, Caleb still died of a disease and his education did nothing to help him. Power reflecting on Caleb’s life seems to be her own unique way of showing respect for her fellow natives of the past. Caleb was most likely a lot like Power herself, and so it was nice yet again to see how far the world has come in relation to Native American education. While natives were either forced or coaxed into getting an education in the past, nowadays Native Americans have the choice of going to school if they want to. Overall, I loved the narrative form of this essay and how it tied together native life and education in the past as opposed to now, and called attention to native stereotypes and how we can eliminate them today.
The readings for this inkshedding assignment were really interesting and I learned a lot from them. Some of the readings are not as exciting but these two articles made me want to keep reading and not stop until I got to the end. Both articles focus on the education of Indian children but in two totally different ways. On one hand, the views and traditions of Indian children help some grow and further their education, but some of the views do not allow Indian children to believe they are worth anything and make them think they are nothing but dumb students. In “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me” by Sherman Alexie I realized how hard it was for Native children to go to school and be able to be themselves. It seemed to me, they had to “pretend” to be someone they weren’t in order to keep the stereotypical views alive that Indian children were not smart, lazy, and had no interest in learning. Sherman was not like any other Indian child, he loved to learn and read and he would read anything and everything that had words or paragraphs. The very first thing he reads is the Superman comic book and he uses the pictures to breakdown what he thinks the character is saying and what is written down on the pages. He reads “Grapes of Wrath” in kindergarten and he believes that if he wasn’t an Indian boy living on a reservation he would be called a prodigy or genius. He gets no credit when credit is due because he is an Indian, that is just not fair. Not only are Indian children being discriminated but they are not even given a chance in life at all. Why would Indian children want to give up and have no desire in the future of learning because why should they want to when they are not even given the chance they deserve? Before they even try to learn, it is already in their head that no matter what they will not succeed so why even bother trying, right? Sherman’s classmates fought with him and wanted him to be quiet when the non-Indian teacher asked for answers, volunteers, and help because in society Indian children were expected to be stupid. It actually must take a lot of brains to be able to act stupid inside the classroom and make sure that everything they were asked was not correct. Although they struggled with basic reading they could remember how to sing a few dozen powwows. Indian children were not dumb and if they actually tried they were realize that they were just like any other child and deserved the same education as any other child, too. Sherman was one of the Indians that didn’t follow his fellow Indian classmates and, instead, stood up for himself and showed that he was smart and was eager to learn and succeed in life. He wanted to make sure that other Indian children realized that they too deserved an education and a successful life so Sherman would visit schools and teach Indian kids creative writing. But, there will always be those kids at the back of the class with no pencil and a blank piece of paper that still follow the stereotype that Indian children are supposed to be dumb and not stand up for themselves. In the end Sherman saved his own life by reading and not giving up on his education and he wants other Indian kids to save their own lives by reading and furthering their education because it will allow them to dream bigger and be successful.
In the article “First Fruits” by Susan Power education is the main theme but Georgiana, uses her traditions and her past tribal memories to help her become a good student and keep her from becoming someone who she isn’t. She is self-educated and reads everything and anything and she sucks everything in and loves to learn. She goes to Harvard as an Indian and at some point she seems like the college lifestyle taking over and her roommate is rubbing off on her a little too much. She is not seeing things like she use to anymore and her knowledge seems to be decreasing or like it is blocked and she needs to unblock it and release it again. She loves her roommate, Allegra, and enjoys her company and likes to watch her because she is everything that she isn’t. Allegra is her friend real non-Indian friend and she thinks that Allegra will be her introduction into this new world but she can’t presume to understand a culture based on one person’s behavior. At some point instead of watching Allegra she starts to follow what Allegra does and wears and when she realizes this she hopes it isn’t too late for her to go back to her Indian ways even though her Indian ways never left her to begin with. Like I said earlier it was like those memories were blocked and she needed to unblock them and it seems like after her professor assigns a writing assignment is when her true Indian qualities start to emerge. She is proud to be an Indian and realizes that she doesn’t need to always fit in to be happy. Allegra and her other non-Indian friend love the powwow
I really enjoyed reading about the very first college experiences of Georgiana Lorraine Shoestring in "First Fruits." I couldn't help comparing it to my own experiences as a new college student-- it brought me back to my tour of Bridgewater State University as well as my other college tours. I remembered the feeling, or rather, multiple feelings, I experienced when my family finally left and I, like Georgiana, was finally alone in a new home for the first time without anyone I knew. I believe that I understand her experiences much more as a college student than I would have before college or decades from now. Although not everything she said is familiar to me personally, I have imagined some of it while considering Study Abroad students' perspectives. She acknowledged that she could not, for instance, understand the entirety of one culture by observing one individual. Students from other countries must have that realization as well, and try to fit in by compiling mental notes on a variety of people. I have a new appreciation for foreign exchange students after reading this article and considering the matter further.
I can even connect with her on simpler things, for example walking faster than everyone else; my slow-paced friend broke her foot a few weeks ago and now is even slower, like Allegra. Musically, her name is ironic, as "allegro" means swift. I am constantly slowing down for my friend to catch up. I admire Georgiana's alacrity of homework completion, however. I always begin the semester eager to get started and get ahead of my assignments, but somewhere in the second week I begin to fall behind until I am completing and turning in assignments as they are due.
Georgiana explains that she grew up learning that time is nonlinear, and rather a wheel in which all are connected. She says Caleb preceded her purposely, almost that he was aware of her as she is aware of him. This is a complex concept about which I learned last year in which we can bear the burdens of others from centuries before and after us because time does not run as it appears to. It is a religious concept which many Christians do not understand, yet they unknowingly acknowledge it as a part of their doctrine.
I sympathize with the professor, and I understand Georgiana's hesitancy yet necessity to read every comment he wrote on her journal. I like that his repeated "yes" grew more intense as her journal became deeper, that he told her not to let them change her. Everyone changes in college; it is a (roughly) four-year rite of passage in which young adults shift their viewpoints and change their identities, often multiple times. But it is important that the individual is the one who changes. Not to be changed by others, not forced into alteration, but changing themselves. We can take in information and choose to discard it or add it to ourselves, like putting on a scarf. In this manner, we shape who we really are and who we choose to become.
I first read Sherman Alexie’s short story “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” about four years ago, and I immediately recognized his unique literary voice. I liked it so much in fact, that I bought his collection of short stories that share the same name, and I read through it in about a day. Alexie is very hard to pinpoint when it comes to his take on things. He can be funny, dark, and even aggressive all at the same time. Furthermore, he is an author, but he doesn’t write like with the heavy sense of intellectualism that comes from reading many others. Instead, Alexie sounds like an actual human being living in textual format, which is a talent I personally believe is incredibly rare in the world of writing. Here, in this piece “The Joy of Writing: Superman and Me”, Alexie gives us another great example with which we can study this. When he remembers his childhood, Alexie writes “A little Indian boy teaches himself to read at an early age and advances quickly”, and that “If he’d been anything but an Indian boy living on the reservation, he might have been called a prodigy” (Alexie 2). Alexie paints a portrait of a disenfranchised Indian child, who, perhaps in another life, would have been treated like a “prodigy”. Alexie then writes that the same boy “grows into a man who often speaks of his childhood in the third-person, as if it will somehow dull the pain and make him sound more modest about his talents” (2). Alexie’s contemplations show how he balances the troubles of being an Indian with the troubles that come from just being a human.
October 20th, 2014
Sherman Alexie’s excerpt titled “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me” was a great read. In this particular excerpt Alexie discusses how he learned to read at a very young age due to him glancing through his father’s Superman comic. When Alexie mentions how he was a young Native American boy who was able to read at the age of three, I think he is reflecting on this vital part of his childhood and pinpointing when these particular injustices started to occur to him. An example of this occurs early in the poem when Alexie states: “ If he'd been anything but an Indian boy living on the reservation, he might have been called a prodigy. But he is an Indian boy living on the reservation and is simply an oddity” (Alexie 1). Here I believe Alexie is acknowledging the fact that he was a gifted child at a young age, but due to the fact that he was a young Native American boy he was not hailed as a prodigy but he was looked at as some sort of misfit who did not fit in.
What I found even more interesting in Sherman Alexie’s “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me” was that he was not accepted by his own fellow Native Americans. Being a smart Native American gave off the impression that you were a dangerous person who other Native Americans did not want to associate with. Alexie discusses how Native Americans were expected to fail in the “non-Indian world”, but he refused to be apart of that group. Alexie states that the Native American children were expected to be stupid, and that his fellow classmates lived up to these expectations most of the time because they did not want to conform to the non-Indian world. Alexie ties back to this in the excerpt when he discusses who he is and what he does presently. Now when he goes back to visit Native American children at reservations, there are so many children who admire him and are doing many of the things he did when he was their age in regards to reading and writing. He also mentions that there are still those children who sit in the back of class with nothing written in their notebook, refusing to conform to the “non-Indian world” like Alexie’s classmates many years ago. I believe at the end of the excerpt when Alexie says “I am trying to save our lives” that he is referring to Native Americans in general, but more specifically to those who refuse to conform to the “non-Indian world” or refuse to educate themselves. These are the Native Americans Sherman Alexie is truly trying to save.
October 21, 2014
I like the first the first part of “First Fruits” because the narrator describes how like his father is in terms of other cultures. In recent classes we have explored the various stereotypes of Native Americans such as how they have no religion or other stereotypes that make them differ from other cultures. The narrator describes how his father is wearing otter skins around his braids and cowboy boots, and these are not so much tradition as vanity. In addition, he says that his father is wearing jeans that are too tight. This is not for the style, but because his father refuses to acknowledge that his is gaining weight. These are all common things that people in every culture deal with, and the narrative therefore puts inadvertently, or purposefully, puts Native Americans in modern day in the same light as everyone else.
Shortly after, the narrator’s father describes the Indian school, the first brick building in Harvard yard. It was meant to house Indian students to educate them and ultimately convert their souls. The father mentions that this is a belief shared by the Puritans and many others in past centuries. This relates to the articles we read by Zitkala-Sa and Luther Standing Bear. Both gave accounts of being sent to schools set up by Europeans. Both of their texts were similar because they described how the Europeans took their identity from them. Fast-forward to modern day and the people on the tour do not know anything about the Indian College. This is a sad fact because it is represents a momentous time in our nation history. It is a tragic one, which is why our nation most likely decides to ignore it, but this is wrong. People need to be made aware of the fact that before Harvard there was an Indian college there, oppressing identities with the education system. Learning from the past is the only way to secure a viable future. The father says there was only one to graduate out of the many that attended, but he died a year later from consumption. It astonishes me that a school can be set up with the intent to educate and convert a whole culture, but only one of them can graduate. While I realize that there wasn’t an abundance of care being thrown the way of the Native Americans, I feel like that defeats the whole purpose. As a future educator, I see that as a failure and an ultimate waste of resources and time.
I found it incredibly interesting that The narrators father uses music to convey the Native American culture or history. We have read texts in the past such as “Rhetorical Sovereignty” that talk about how the culture of Native Americans needs to be taught more. This is a different approach and way to look at it, through music, and one that I can absolutely stand behind. The father chooses a different moment in Indian history for each album, reminding me of chapters in a textbook. I think schools today would benefit from having music such as this in the classroom to accompany the texts being taught.
Joyce Rain Anderson
October 21, 2014
First Fruits Response
I really enjoyed the piece First Fruits by Susan Power. From the very beginning of the piece the contrast between Georgiana and her father is made clear. While the father walks around the tour with “his black hair in two braids…wrapped in otter skins…and his cowboy boots with two-inch heels”(113) she admires Jean, the tour guide, for her perfectly pressed “crimson blazer and gray pleated skirt” (111). However, although it seems as though Georgiana is trying to separate herself from her native culture, she has a change of heart.
It was interesting to for once to see the Native American Culture accepted by white surroundings. Jean was able to learn a lot from the father- especially about the Indian School that once inhabited Harvard’s campus. She was intrigued by all that he said, enough so that she handed the your over and began taking notes claiming that he “enlightened us all” (116). The Indian school at Harvard, as he described it seemed to act similarly to those of the boarding schools we have read about. Their main goal was to “convert their souls” (115).
I could not help but continue to see Georgiana’s connection to her Native American heritage regardless of her attempts to become more modern and focused on her new surroundings trying to fit in as a wasicun. Take when she was exercising with Allegra, for example. As natives are connected to their land and all it encompasses (the wind and air) so is Georgiana. While Allegra jogs behind, she runs through the sharp air that she appreciates. She also hopes to be haunted by the only graduate of the Indian School, Caleb Cheeshateaumuck.
It was quite uplifting finally seeing people like Jean, Allegra and Adrienne want to know more about the Native American culture rather than dismissing it as it mostly is. I loved the ending pages when they danced together to the powwow tape and their ability and eagerness to embrace a new culture in a dominantly white place. Georgiana is not allowing for the school to convert her soul as the Indian school located on campus once did.
Native Writing and Rhetoric
October 21, 2014
In “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me”, Sherman Alexie explores the notion that most Native American students exist in a world where they are viewed as predestined to fall short of expectation. He states, “A smart Indian is a dangerous person, widely feared and ridiculed by Indians and non-Indians alike.” (2) I believe that this is a valid statement for many reasons. The first reason is that this mindset is representative of all that Native Americans have gone through as a people. For instance, the most widely used term for Indians in early colonial times was the term “savage.” This is term alone embodies a notion that native individuals are lesser on an intellectual level than Euro-American groups. Additionally, it can be noted that empowering a minority through education is detrimental to the white power system which exists in our nation. As we continue to fuel these stereotypes of Native Americans and other minority groups as being “stupid”, our country maintains an imbalanced power dynamic.
In contrast, Susan Power explores the idea that one of the fundamental issues with education for Native Americans was that education for the indigenous was instituted as a means to convert Indians to Christianity. She quotes her father’s words to a tour guide, “ ‘The Puritans—and you better believe they haven’t been the only ones—felt that if you educated Indians, you could convert their souls.’”(115) Alexie’s piece displays that education is symbolic of freedom or “salvation” through academic enlightenment. However, education has always been employed by white people as a means to assimilate and entrap Native Americans into a culture in which their own disappears. This is vital to our understanding because it helps us to better conceptualize why Native American children often give in to academic defeat in the manner that Alexie conveys. They are fearful that becoming interested in academics is a way in which they will be controlled by a group of individuals who do not respect or understand their life values.
First off, in the “Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me,” I loved the beginning and the story about how he learned how to read. Learning to read from a comic is such a cool way to read. Sherman Alexie explains that he was brought up in a poor family, but on the reservation his parents always figured out how to make enough money to become middle class.
The family hardly had any money, but that did not stop Alexie’s father from buying all sorts of books from everywhere. This is interesting because you would think that with such little money, his father would put his money into other things. This just goes to show how much his father loved reading. And I think this shows us how important reading and writing was to his family.
The part of the story about the paragraphs was also very interesting. I never thought of paragraphs as information in a fence and that this information all has something to do with one specific thing. Sherman Alexie began to view everything as paragraphs and the world kind of makes sense that way to me, also. Sherman Alexie began to read on his own. I love how he portrays himself as a small Indian boy on the reservation, but he was so smart and determined and learned to read on his on.
When I read the part of this story about how he had to act like he was dumb because smart Indians were feared and ridiculed. He was so smart and I am saddened that he would have to hide that because Indians weren’t supposed to be intelligent. But Sherman Alexie refused to let those people bring him down and I loved that. He went back to visit these schools after he became a writer and he helped give hope to the children of his old Indian schools. I loved that!
In "Why Educators Can't Ignore Indian Mascots" Dr. Cornel Pewewardy talks about the stereotypes done in logos, whether for sports or advertisement. In my opinion this is a terrible way to view native people because it is only through media not reality. Real Native Americans show the public what they looked like instead of the public making assumptions with feathers and such. The fact that mascots are still using the term "red skin" is derogatory and insulting. The Celtics were not called drunken Irishmen so other cultures should have just as equal respect. One main negative look on Native Americas were the older cartoons. Even though many people enjoyed the cartoons of the time they were still racist towards many cultures including Native American. As a modern society we have to move forward from the bad and overcome what was in the past to be a better society. There will always be stereotypes but when visiting such things they should not be used for hurting others.
Response to "First Fruits" and "The Joys of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me"
After reading "The Joys of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me," I immediately thought of how education and the power of reading are so important. Something so small like a comic book could become a great memory for someone and become the story of how they first learned how to read. One of the quotes that I would like to point out that struck me was when Sherman Alexie wrote, “I visit schools and teach creative writing to Indian kids. In all my years in the reservation school system, I was never taught how to write poetry, short stories or novels.” This quote shows that Native American Indian people are not all lazy and stuck in their reservations. He made it a point to go out and find sources of education for him to read. He also makes sure that education does not stop with him. He makes it a point to try to extend the education of little kids who are in the same position as he was. Another quote I would like to add is, “Then there are the sullen and already defeated Indian kids who sit in the back rows and ignore me with theatrical precision.” This was a powerful sentence to me because it is sad that there are children who close themselves off at such an early age. Sherman Alexie ends his writing with that he is trying to save lives and that is exactly what these children do not understand. He is on their side, but if they do not help themselves then there is nothing more he can do.
"First Fruits" by Susan Power, was a powerful read. She finally realizes that her father is different when compared and looked at by other people. She notices his hair, clothes and skin complexion as if he never has before. The only reason is it so evident to her is that different people who are not of Native American descent surround him. The connection that she makes with the school and from the inferences she makes of the tour, shows that this is exactly what she needed. The connection she hopes to make is to the only graduate of the school. This is a milestone for the Native American people because he can give them hope and the confidence that they too can succeed as Native peoples in a world that does not support them as much as other cultures.
October 22, 2014
Critical Response (Mascots)
The beginning of the article on Indian mascots had be taken back at first. The author gives the introduction into how it is the responsibility of educators and teachers to make students and others realize that having mascots depicting stereotypical versions of natives is wrong. The author then called it dysconcious racism, defining it as a “form of racism that accepts dominant white norms and privileges.” He then goes on to say that if you have seen these antics and negative behaviors portrayed around you for your whole life, then you have become numb to the racism. This had me taken back when reading because I had never considered myself as taking part in racism, even if it wasn’t consciously. While I do acknowledge that in the past I had preconceived notions that in recent times have been disproved or otherwise altered, I had never condoned racism. This type of “numb” and dysconcious racism is something new to me but at the same time it does make absolute sense. It could almost be described as racism by omission of action, of not taking a stand against it. I know I am guilty to this because my high school mascot was a Native American. My school had pep rallies where we would have two students dressed in the headdresses come out and partake in some kind of celebration to get the crowd pumped up. I am not calling myself a racist or anything, but I do remember loving the pep rallies and not ever having a problem with the mascot uniforms.
While reading, the author makes several valid points as to what is wrong with having a Native American as a mascot. Several of the arguments he makes are that there is no research saying that Indigenous people aspired to being a mascot, and that many of the acts associated with mascots make young Indigenous people feel shame about who they are. This is a saddening fact because no person should ever feel shame about who they are and their identity. This can loosely relate to the texts by Luther Standing Bear and Zitkala-Sa and how the Europeans were making them feel shame for the Native American roots while trying to turn them more European. While nobody is intentionally trying to shame anybody in modern times, it does not lessen the fact that it is a real problem, nor does it diminish the need for it to stop. While my school just had a head for a logo and the only time the mascot was used was at pep rallies, this is not the case for many schools. Other schools, especially colleges across the country, manufacture images of Native Americans as their mascots. However, all of it can be considered mockery of Indigenous people as people who are not Native American are acting like someone they are not, and pretending to be the stereotype. Times are proving change as there is recent talk about the Washington Redskins possibly changing their name due to the slanderous name. With every change, more will follow.
It wasn’t until now, after reading Why Educators Can’t Ignore Indian Mascots by Dr. Cornel Pewewardy, that I realized how important it is for teachers to know about the issues of Native American mascots, logos, nicknames, and anything pertaining to Native people that represent them in a false and/or negative way. Teachers become the main voice to end these stereotypes and stop racism towards Native people because if the new generations of children are taught different views of Indigenous people then these views will continue in society and the old views will, hopefully, die out. One thing that really stuck out to me was the fact that Dr. Cornel makes the point that we, society, don’t even realize that these mascots and logos are even racial because we see it so much that we become numb and think it is normal. This is what society wants us to think that the mascots and logos are normal and wants us to think that the schools that have Indian mascots and logos are honoring Indians and insist their schools sponsored activities aren’t offensive but are compliments to Native Americans. In reality these mascots and logos are offensive to Natives and it causes them to feel shame about who they are as a cultural being. Racial stereotypes play an important role in shaping a young person’s conscious and it sticks with them and they believe all of it and if it’s a young Native American that believes it then they become embarrassed of who they are based on false information. These stereotypes make it hard for young Indigenous children to be a part of society without being made fun of, harassed, and teased because of their culture. These native images that we see and hear about today are not anything that actually portray what and who Natives really are. They are human beings just like us and just because their culture has been dragged through the mud because of Europeans that attempted to destroy the Native American race and steal their land from them. Of course these settlers are going to look at these people negatively because they want what the Natives have and will do whatever means necessary to take it from them and that included making the Natives look like these horrible people that are savage-like, “pagan”, “retarded”, “culturally deprived”, etc. It is one thing for these horrible, mean settlers to exploit Natives in this way but for society to continue this view that still continues in today society is unfair and just wrong. That’s why it is so important that teachers take a stand and start to change these stereotypes starting with the younger generation because soon these younger generations will be the older generation and if teachers can change their mind-set about Natives then the right views of them will begin to surface. We are taught that dehumanizing anyone and racism is wrong, but why is it ok for society to do this to Natives through using mascots and logos that are a form of cultural violence.
There is no reason why people need to fight over why Indian logos and mascots should be allowed and not banned because in the end it is unfair and unjust. It is racist and if it is hurting a race then it should not even be discussed, it should just be banned. All the sports teams have to do is change their name or mascot, what is the big deal? It is disgraceful and rude and that is not what we want to teach our children to be when they grow up, right, so then why is it okay for them to act like that? Using racial slurs towards blacks, whites, Asians, etc. are seen as wrong and punishable offenses, so why is it okay to offend Natives and racially slur them all over T.V., the media, and just everywhere in today’s society. There really is no answer that will justify the actions of the sports teams that will not change their mascots or logos it is just proving those teams are racist, selfish, and rude people. Something needs to be done and I think that a law should be put in place that makes it unlawful to allow any racial logos or mascots to be used, whether it be towards Natives, whites, blacks, Asians etc. One race isn’t more important than another and every race should be treated equally and respectfully. If these mascots and logos become banned then we are teaching our children that it is wrong to use a race’s identity in negative ways and if they realize what those negative ways are then they will see that is not who the Native people really are.
October 22, 2014
Why Educators Can’t Ignore Mascots
This reading really hit close to home for me (although I am ashamed of it.) I spent the later half of my 21 years of life in Melrose, MA. I moved to Melrose when I was a freshman in high school and spent my 4 years there as a Red Raider. Our mascot was and still is a stereotypical Indian dressed in Native gear, moccasins and a completed with the identifiable headdress. At football games I would be surrounded by a student body of people decked in face paint and fathers in their hair. To make fun of the other team the crowd consisting of parents, students, and even young children, with the help from the band would do our signature “tomahawk” chant. Its is appalling to know that I took part in such actions that are so demeaning toward natives and as a future educator it is my job to make sure that this does not continue.
As stated in the reading, ”Schools should be places where students come to unlearn the stereotypes such mascots represent.” Although schools are supposed to be diminishing the racist views of Natives, with sporting teams and events, what may be learned in school is not being shown in the real world. In school systems today, there is such a big stress on bullying awareness, however, there are school systems like much like Melrose that allow for the mocking of indigenous peoples culture to happen. How does this make sense? It’s not okay to put down Americans but its okay to make Native people feel shame in regards to their culture? It is absolutely ridiculous. If “Indian mascots are one cause for low self-esteem in Indigenous children” then why are still allowed to be present in our schools? The reading said it perfectly when it read, “As long as such negative mascots and logos remain within the arena of school activities, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children are learning to tolerate racism in schools.”
I really like how the reading ended on speaking to other racist team names that would never be tolerated such as “Pittsburgh Negroes, Kansas City Jews, Redding Redskins, Houston Hispanics, Chicago Chicanos, San Francisco Asians, or Washington Whities.” This is a great example of just how morally wrong, hurtful, and damaging the slurs are. Racism is racism; it should not be tolerated in any form and it is important for children to learn this at a young age because of their pliability.
23 October 2014
Critical Response – 10/21
Today’s reading dealt with the kind of racism that most of us do not ever think too much about: the use of Native Americans as mascots. It is impossible to look around at the sports environment in the United States and not see the native person everywhere. From grade school, all the way up to college, and even in the professional sphere, Native Americans are used as mascots to represent the institution. While the intention to use the Native American “image” is often not malicious, nearly all of the institutions that engage in this behavior are falling into the trap of using the same, tired, cliché stereotype of Native Americans that has been around for generations.
We would like to think that we live in a world where most of us would speak out against the racism in our society, but when the racism is happening so discreetly, many people do not notice what is going on around them at all. This is ultimately the problem with Native American mascots. Most people see them and do not realize the very real harm that they are doing. By continuing these traditions, we only perpetuate this kind of racism, instead of dealing with the issue directly and educating ourselves on the reality of Native American life in the United States today.
In a way, what we are doing is creating a sort of generational racism in the United States. Whether consciously or not, parents, guardians, and older adults are passing on the image of the Native American to their children. What is worse is how commonplace it is. The more young children see tomahawks, headdresses, and ritual dance, the more desensitized they grow to what they are seeing. Most of us are well aware of racism when it occurs to other minority grows, but when it comes to native people, our stereotypes of them are so ingrained with who we think they are as people that we don’t see anything wrong with how they’re being portrayed, and unfortunately, I don’t see this changing any time soon.
So, what can we do to help alleviate the issue and start to improve the situation? For starters, we have to start being much more honest with ourselves. We live in a country where one of the biggest sports franchises has a blatantly racist name, and yet, no one makes too much of a fuss about it. We never seem to question what we see around us, and because of this, we do not get involved in what we know is wrong. Week in and week out, we see signage for teams with native mascots and just turn the other way, content with the status quo because it does not affect us. We need to understand that it does, indeed, affect us. Perpetuating native stereotypes does nothing but disenfranchise an entire people, and by propagating this kind of ignorance, we are telling them that we simply do not care enough to change our behavior. We have to start better educating ourselves, especially our young children, so that we do not keep passing on this ignorance to the next generation.
It’s interesting that we are, again, focusing on the topic of sports mascots. I say “interesting” because there seems to be a sudden societal concern about this issue. What’s most striking about the entire debate is that it should have happened decades ago, the change should have been common sense. Cornel Pewewardy’s piece “Why Educators Can’t Ignore Indian Mascots” is probably the best piece I’ve read so far that covers this topic. He specifically targets the issue, and uses it as a gateway to examine a much broader problem concerning how The United States culturally and socially shackles Indigenous peoples to a place of racism. He does this by using particular language and creating a particular tone. For example, he notes “Beginning with the Wild West shows and continuing with contemporary movies, television, and literature, the image of Indigenous Peoples has radically shifted from any reference to living people to a field of urban fantasy in which wish fulfillment replaces reality” (Pewewardy). Here, Pewewardy examines how Indigenous peoples are fighting a battle with their own realities and the “field of urban fantasy” that they have been placed into. Additionally, he uses the term “self-image” frequently, and he argues that much of the mascot problem systematically ruins Indigenous people’s sense of self-image. On the subject of the mascots, he notes how they “distort both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children’s attitudes toward an oppressed—and diverse—minority” (Pewewardy). Because of this, he further notes “false images still dominate the consciousness of the American psyche” (Pewewardy).
Often times, this issue is simply described as being “racist” or “offensive”. While this is true, these simple statements don’t investigate the issue underneath the problem. Pewewardy enters into a much more real space of human behavior and societal psychology when addressing this problem, and I think this makes a more digestible discussion on an intellectual level.
Here is my response on the mascots pieces. Posting it here since there is not another blog up yet. Enjoy!
The essay “Why Educators Can’t Ignore Mascots” by Dr. Cornel Pewewardy provides valuable insight on the negative effects of using American Indians as mascots for sports teams. In many cases, Indigenous peoples are offended and permanently affected not only by athletic teams’ names, but by words and gestures used at sporting events in combination with those names. Pewewardy delves into the psychological impact of offensive or racist mascots on Native American children particularly, and highlights the importance of turning around the trend of what he calls “dysconcious racism” which exists at many levels in the United States today.
The appearance of American Indian mascots in modern sports is based solely off of what Pewewardy calls a “manufactured image.” The facial features, dress, and actions of American Indian sports mascots do not reflect actual qualities of native peoples, but rather reflect a negative view of Native Americans that has been being constructed since first contact between Europeans and American Indigenous peoples. Instead of athletic associations focusing on positive aspects of native cultures, the trend seems to be to make the Indigenous person out to be a savage, war-like, almost inhumane being. Pewewardy sees the tendency of mascots to represent a fictional or over exaggerated character as an example of white American greed for power and control. By controlling a minority group’s appearance in mass media, Euro-American powers can retain power over that group and can maintain a hypothetical state of superiority without actually giving a valid representation of the group being marginalized.
The scary part about Pewewardy’s essay is the way he discusses “dysconscious racism” as something which can be so harmful but yet hard to recognize and therefore hard to eliminate. Manufactured images of the American Indigenous person have become so common in our culture through television, cartoons, drawings, literature, and now athletic activities, that many Americans are blind to the fact that there actually is a real American Indian out there who does not retain a fictional image perpetuated by white society. Young children, in particular, are at risk of losing touch with the reality of American Indian peoples, because they are being impressed upon by media images at such a critical period in their lives when they are trying to form assertions about the world around them and the people living in it.
Pewewardy wraps up his essay by making it clear that the main message of his writing is intended for America’s educators. Not only schools teaching Indigenous peoples, but mainstream American educational institutions have a duty to recognize and remove manufactured imaged of American Indians from the classroom. In order to allow for the growth of students and young people, and to give students a chance to draw conclusions form and interact with the reality of Native American peoples, mascots and the many non-truths about Indigenous cultures need to be corrected.
October 22, 2014
Dr. Cornel Pewewardy’s excerpt “Why Educators Can’t Ignore Indian Mascots” was an intriguing read. In the excerpt Pewewardy brings up how certain insults and negative connotations that are connected to these mascots prevent Americans from understanding the authentic human experience of Native Americans. I think what he means by this is that Americans often learn misleading or offensive information pertaining Native Americans, and they usually are binded to this offensive and untrue thought process. By maintaining that particular mindset it prevents us from learning the true nature of Native Americans, and sticking to our prejudice mindset. Cornel Pewewardy discusses how many schools around the country use Native American mascots, nicknames, and logos that are inaccurate representations of Native Americans. The problem is that these schools truly believe that they are honoring Native Americans when in actuality they are offending Native Americans and making a mockery out of their culture. Pewewardy also believes there is a hidden agenda behind using these mascots and nicknames, that ties into exploitation. Exploitation ties into power and control (which Pewewardy also mentions) and says that the goal is to make you believe their version of the “truth” is the absolute truth, this is where the exploitation ties in. The hidden agenda is that many Americans who are in positions of power are whitewashing the culture of the Native Americans, and formulating their culture however they please. Leaving behind much of the truth and filling in the blanks with either blatant lies or half truths.
In American Indians of Children’s Literature, the article started off by discussing how Jefferson and many other presidents wanted to strip Native Americans of their land and make them farmers not hunters. I think that we wanted to do this because it would mean they needed less land and it would give us more. In the next article, the author discusses the stereotype of the feathered Indian and how literature about the Native can help get rid of this stereotype early on in a child’s education. And then the next article goes on to describe how these children book should not have stereotypes at all and if they do, the teachers should point out these stereotypes and correct them for the children.
We read in another article a few weeks ago about how we have to be careful what books we read for ourselves and to students. It is important to look for clues like, legend, as told by and others. Most Native American stories are told by someone else other than the person who knows the story or that is in the story. Native people do not talk about their stories at legends so that is a clue that they did not write the story, and information in a story that says ‘as told by’ can be false or fabricated. This is interesting and important to know, especially for teachers.
As a future educator myself I was very excited to read this article, as it is something we have talked a little about in class and I was interested to know more. Where I’m from our mascot is a cat, so I had never heard of the battles of offensive Mascots going on until after high school. I remember when I first found out my initial reaction was “why wouldn’t they just change it” as soon as it was claimed offensive it should not have even been given a second thought. Then I started thinking about something else that this article also spoke about, which was whether we are as naïve as we claim to be. At one point in the article a school whose students perform offensive Indian dances and shows disrespect to the culture, claim that they think they are honoring them. Young children not understanding the difference between honoring and insulting, okay I can see the naivety there, but as adults we are not that ignorant. Mocking a culture and portraying them in a stereotypical way is not honoring them, it is insulting them. Another part of the article focuses on why these stereotypes need to stop, and what they are doing to children. I bet that people who wear offensive teams apparel or participate in these kinds of things never think about the children whose ancestors they are plastering across their shirts, or laughing about while they stomp their feet around and yell barbaric noises. I am still shocked to see that we, as a society have not been able to stick up to the few who think that this form of racism, in the name of sports is still acceptable. Last week I read an article from NPR in regards to how they are handling the “Redskins” team issue. They said that in respect for those who it may be offending they will attempt to longer refer to the team by that name unless completely necessary, and instead they will refer to the team in context as “the team” or “Washington”. Really? If ‘trying our best’ and trying to avoid the entire issue is how we think we can resolve problems. If this is true, then as a society and an entire race, we have got a lot of work to do
Native Writing and Rhetoric
As displayed in most of the texts we have read, stereotypes projected on native people always produce negative and real results. The continued stereotypes of caricatured Indians continues to instill a negative idea of the indigenous people while disrespecting the core of who they are as people. Dr. Cornel Pewewardy states, “As someone who has spent his entire adult life teaching and administrating elementary schools for Indigenous children, I see that the way Indian mascots are used today is about "dysconscious racism" and a form of cultural violence.” This means that such customs as mascots signifies that our country “accepts dominant white norms and privileges.” This means that we are stating that white people are the dominant overseers of the land. This is skewed and beyond offensive. As a society, I believe we have made many strides towards a more equal society. Twenty years ago, many prejudiced beliefs were passed along in a much more widespread manner. This being said, we continue to project somewhat subtle mantras of dominance. We continue to portray native people as less than human in order to suffice an egotistical stance on the power struggle. What negatively affects our society is the fact that we blindly accept these notions as norms without ever considering the detriments. Additionally, Pewewardy states, “This behavior makes a mockery of Indigenous cultural identity and causes many young Indigenous people to feel shame about who they are as a cultural being....” This is significant because in a culture which is desperately trying to salvage their unique and valuable identity, our country is attempting to instill a poor self-image onto this group. We are a country full of unique identities, but more often than not, those in charge rely heavily upon keeping minority groups down.
I believe that the article "Why Educators Can't Ignore Indian Mascots" made many valid points. It is not fair to Native American children to grow up feeling marginalized. It is also unacceptable for this slanted single story to be the only one presented to America's youth. Native Americans probably wouldn't approve of being misrepresented in the manner in which they are presented in sports, and it is very unfortunate that the general American public probably thinks this is a pretty accurate depiction of these people. These are generalizations about Native Americans, and these generalizations are mockeries of various actions and traditions. They promote ignorance and, unwittingly, discrimination.
Educators have extra work to do because of these mascots and media representations. They have to help students "unlearn" these false impressions before they can instill truths. They must explain the realities behind the stereotypes and dispel ideas that Native Americans are these fictitious beings, because they were and are, in fact, real people. Young children especially are susceptible to these misconceptions, and anything told or shown to them will be retained as truth. This is why mascots are a very sensitive concept, especially cartoonish, unrealistic Native Americans for children's schools. The self-esteem and self-images of Native American youth are corrupted. This reminds me of the study which was performed on black children in which they were each separately presented a white girl doll, a white boy doll, a black girl doll, and a black boy doll. Besides gender and color, the dolls were identical. They were then asked which doll was the ugly/pretty/bad/good doll, which doll they would prefer to play with, and which doll looked the most like them. Almost all of the students stated that the good, pretty dolls were the white ones and that the bad, ugly dolls were the black ones. And they most closely resembled the black ones, but would prefer to play with the white ones. This helped to integrate schools further because it proved that "separate but equal" was not successful and damaged the children's concepts of themselves at such early ages.
That being said, I also think people should lighten up a little. We should all be able to poke fun of ourselves. There's political incorrectness and then there's jokes. Perhaps we should have mascots who are white and Mexican and black and Asian as well. It would still be very racist, but everyone would know it was inaccurate, and the point would be to laugh at ourselves as communities in a nonthreatening, not hostile manner. Native Americans should not be singled out, of course. We should all be treated equally. Just an idea to consider.
I found the graphic novel narrative "Moshup's Bridge" to be quite interesting. As a reader of graphic novels I had never really came across narratives with Native American tales. Mainly I came across Japanese stories and European ones as well as White American stories, the usual super hero tale that we all know and love. I enjoyed reading these readings because they were interesting to read and also slightly easier to read. The fact that there doesn't seem to be a lot of graphic novelizations of Native American stories disappoints me because there are so many good tales in the culture. Another point to make is that it is also rare to see Native Americans in superhero comics. I have read many of the American super hero comics where there are many White, African American and even Hispanic super heroes however never have I come across a Native American super hero. They are just simply a breed of hero rare to find.
I forgot to post this !! But here is my response to "Why Educators Can't Ignore Mascots"
The term "dysconscious racism" is a term previously unknown to my ears, yet it’s a concept I have noticed within our society. In my high school years, I started recognizing that white norms are what “run” our society and people are generally numb to the racism that surrounds them. Today I look around and see the racism in our society, and I notice how people do not seem to recognize how corrupt these representations are. It seems to me that racism, even towards whites, is a prevalent issue in our culture. Dr. Pewewardy notes that if mascots were to take on names such as Hispanics or Asians or Jews, they would be considered highly offensive and racist. Yet despite this, names referring to Native Americans are brushed aside. As a future educator, I agree that these representations are detrimental, especially to youth. These racist practices encourage cultural racism and stereotypes, as we teach our youth that is acceptable to label certain cultures and groups. Instead we should be teaching students the true histories and characteristics of Native peoples so that children can leave with an accurate understanding, not what is presented falsely to them by society. A child will view the social representation of an Indian, and then believe that one is not a true “Indian” unless they fit this motif. One quote utterly stands out to me above the rest: As culturally responsive educators, we must understand that "enslaved minds cannot teach liberation." Our minds are enslaved by the racism present within our society; how can we instruct students to be tolerant and respectful to others, if we as educators cannot perceive the racism that engulfs our culture? What we as educators reveal to our students will carry with them until they leave this world. We cannot teach hatred and discrimination and expect our students will be fine. Students view these misrepresentations in mascots and form solid beliefs on the cultural group represented: children absorb information like a sponge.
Space to comment on the readings for each class...